This June has become something of a grim reaper for a number of productions, both on and Off-Broadway -- the positive side being that the closings open up much-desired theatres in a log-jammed theatrical climate.
Here's a rundown of productions (including 10 Broadway shows) that have recently ended their runs or will finish up within the next couple of weeks:
As Bees In Honey Drown, Douglas Carter Beane won the Outer Critics Circle's John Gassner Playwriting Award for this treasurable farce about a young author taken for a ride by publicist extraordinaire, Alexa Vere de Vere. As of June 5, the show will have played in New York for most of the last year, first at the Greenwich House (June 5-29, 1997), then at the Lucille Lortel Theatre, opening there July 24, 1997. After starting at the Lortel July 15, 1997 the comedy played 10 previews and will have run 366 regular performance by its June 7 close.
The Chairs, a celebrated revival of Eugene Ionesco's absurdist comedy, ends its limited run June 13 after 75 performances at the Golden Theatre. The show is up for six Tonys, it was scheduled to close because its British stars, Richard Briers and Geraldine McEwan, have other commitments.
The Cripple of Inishmaan was nearly as well-received as its author's other New York hit, The Beauty Queen of Leenane. Martin McDonagh's pitch-black comedy opened Apr. 7 at the Public Theatre and ran past two extensions, all the way to May 17. The Deep Blue Sea ended May 17 at the Roundabout's mainstage space, extended for one week past its intended May 10 close. Mark Lamos' staging featured Blythe Danner as an Englishwoman driven to despair by her callow young husband.
The Diary of Anne Frank was hoping for a Tony boost from its Best Revival and Featured Actress nominations, but the wins didn't pan out, and the show, which has been hovering at the 50 percent attendance mark for weeks, will close June 14. James Lapine directs the star-studded, somewhat-revised revival at the Music Box Theatre.
The Dying Gaul will end its brief, troubled run at the Vineyard Theatre June 14. Reviews ranged from mixed to exceptionally good, but the NY Times was lukewarm, and the show had to overcome the loss of its lead, Cotter Smith, due to a back injury. After a short postponement, Craig Lucas' drama opened with new lead Tony Goldwyn, May 31.
The Fastest Clock In The Universe, Philip Ridley's sinister English drama, finished its scheduled run May 23 at Off-Broadway's Intar. The New Group's mounting, directed by Jo Bonney, opened Apr. 28.
Golden Child, though a Best-Play Tony nominee, just couldn't muster an audience. David Henry Hwang's play about pre-War China closed May 31 after 69 performances at the Longacre Theatre, despite good-to-excellent reviews.
Honour posted its closing notice thirteen hours after the 1998 Tony Awards (both nominees, Jane Alexander and Enid Graham, went home empty-handed). Joanna Murray-Smith's drama will end after the matinee, June 14, after 28 previews and 57 regular performances.
The Last Night of Ballyhoo, Alfred Uhry's winning comedy/drama tells of an upper class Jewish family coping with one unmarried daughter and another who falls for a guy from a slightly lower social class. The 1997 Tony Award winner as Best Play, has its last night on Broadway June 28, after 23 previews and 557 performances.
The Life, though a strong contender for Tony honors last season (it won for Best Featured Actress and Featured Actor), the Cy Coleman & Ira Gassman musical will close June 7 after 466 performances at the Barrymore Theatre. Despite the run, it will have lost a reported $7 million.
Joseph Gabriel's Magic `98, the return of magician Joseph Gabriel to Off-Broadway's Lambs Theatre was supposed to be just for the holidays, but the show kept going for months afterwards, finally making itself disappear May 17.
Mindgames, a one-man show from mind-reader Marc Salem didn't quite catch on with New York audiences but had a six-month nonetheless, ending at the Westside Theatre May 31. A national tour is being planned.
Mr. Peters' Connections, Arthur Miller's new play, capped an entire season of his work at Off-Broadway's Signature Theatre. With Peter Falk and Anne Jackson heading the cast, the show was extended past its June 7 close to June 21. Previews began Apr. 28 for the show's May 17 opening.
Nasty Little Secrets, a Primary Stages revival of Lanie Robertson's look at Joe Orton received mixed reviews but did well enough to extend a week past its June 7 close to June 14. Previews began May 6 for a May 20 opening.
Never The Sinner, John Logan's dissection of the mentalities of young, real life thrill-killers Leopold & Loeb, ended its healthy run of 147 total performances at the John Houseman Theatre, May 31. Spokesperson Jeffrey Richards says the play is now planning for five performances across the country, including Boston and Phoenix.
The Old Neighborhood, three one-acts by David Mamet, received some solid reviews but little audience interest. The show ended May 9, the first casualty of the Tony nominations announced five days before. The Old Neighborhood opened Nov. 19, 1997 and ran for 10 previews and 197 regular performances at the Booth Theatre.
Once in a Lifetime at the Atlantic Theatre was greeted by mixed reviews when it opened May 31, so the show will end its run June 18. The Kaufman & Hart comedy began previews May 16.
The Sunshine Boys, a National Actors Theatre production at Broadway's Lyceum Theatre. This long-running revival of Neil Simon's comedy reunited "Odd Couple" team Jack Klugman and Tony Randall. Previews of The Sunshine Boys began Nov. 29, 1997 for an opening Dec. 8, 1997. The show ends its run June 28, after 12 previews and 230 regular performances, though spokesperson Charlie Siedenburg (of Springer/Chicoine) points out that date had long been planned and had nothing to do with the show getting passed over by the Tony nominators.
The Wizard Of Oz finished its much-publicized New York stint at Madison Square Garden, May 31. The return of this stage adaptation of the legendary 1939 film featured Mickey Rooney as the Wizard and Eartha Kitt as the Wicked Witch. The show began previews May 1 and opened May 6.
Remember the log-jam of unavailable theatres at the beginning of the season? Here's a list of Broadway theatres that will be (at least temporarily) free after early July:
Booth Theatre (but Jerry Herman starts there in mid-July)
Cort Theatre (Freak closes July 4)
Helen Hayes Theatre
Music Box Theatre
Though not all the above-mentioned show closings are unhappy (some ended after long and satisfying runs; others were limited engagements to begin with), the New York Post does point out (June 5) several shows this past season took serious financial blows. The worst so far is Paul Simon's The Capeman, losing $11 million after a contentious and protest-marred run at the Marquis. The Post also points out that Frank Wildhorn's musical, The Scarlet Pimpernel, also stands to lose $11 million if it closes this month -- this despite Tony nominations for Best Musical, Best Book and for star Douglas Sills.
A surprise loser is The Life, which won two major Tonys (featured actor and actress) and will have run more than a year at the Barrymore Theatre. For all that, the Cy Coleman musical about 1980 street life will be $7 million in the red when it shuts down this weekend. That's the same loss as Side Show, which played a frustrating (for fans) game of "we're re-opening/no we're not" before finally calling it quits.
Even 1776, a major critical hit for the Roundabout Theatre, will end $3 million in the red. Jackie, a comic-book look at JFK's legendary wife, also ended $3 million down. One also has to feel extra sorry for Golden Child, which lost one producer before it opened and then had a second lease on life when actress Talia Shire stepped in with a big check. The cash -- and a Best Play Tony nomination -- didn't help; the David Henry Hwang drama closed May 31.
The silver lining in all this is that two non-musicals have already recouped their investments: Art and The Judas Kiss.
-- By David Lefkowitz